I just read through all my old blogs and was very tempted to edit and change them all, but I mostly refrained. Hindsight and all that. I was certainly enthusiastic in those early months. And even though I am not longer experiencing the high of “pink cloud” that some of us experience in the early months of sobriety, I continue to feel immense gratitude for a life free from alcohol. If you are thinking about taking a break from alcohol or giving it up altogether, just give it a try. I can absolutely promise you will never regret NOT drinking. Never have I heard the words, ” I really wish I had drank more last night.”
In four years time, I have seen a greater acceptance of the choice to not drink alcohol. There had been a shift away from the stigma of living a sober life. We now know that no amount of alcohol is good for you and that alcohol is responsible for many cancers, such as oral cancer, pharynx and larynx cancers, colorectal and esophageal cancers, as well as liver and breast cancers. In much of the literature, the word alcoholic has been replaced with alcohol use disorder. It has become widely accepted that alcohol is, in fact, an addictive drug and therefor when you are regularly drinking, it is possible, even probable to become addicted. There are now more alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous for those of us who do not feel comfortable with the organization for whatever reason.
Imagine, if we stopped talking about an addiction to alcohol as disease and instead call out alcohol for what it is, an addictive substance that is not only normalized in society, but romanticized. That living a life free from alcohol does not have to be some horrible daily struggle, but instead an amazing, freeing, joyful way to live.
Freeing myself from the grip of alcohol is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Even after four years, I never tire of the feeling of going to bed sober and waking up without a hangover. I have become a better version of myself, a truer version, one I had forgotten existed when I was regularly drinking. I am more open, honest and vulnerable. I have forgiven myself for past mistakes and accepted them as part of living a full life. “Changed behavior is the best apology.” I’m not sure who wrote it, but I read it in Hola Sober magazine which has been a great resource and has continues to renew my enthusiasm for a sober life.
I have learned that to stay sober, I need to continue to do “the work.” I do wish there was a better word then work to describe the collection of things we do to stay sober. The word work, makes the experience sound unpleasant, when it is actually, for me, enjoyable. It is about doing all the things that help me connect to my authentic self. Connecting with a community of strong sober people, spending time with my family and friends, moving my body, getting out in nature, writing in my journal, reading meditating, and practicing gratitude.
When I started this journey, I could not fathom being sober for four years. Now, I cannot imagine ever going back drinking alcohol.